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Meemken Farms Recognized for Conservaiton Efforts

Meemken Farms Recognized for Conservaiton Efforts

September 17, 2018 by

Gary Meemken’s efforts of conservation farming have now earned their farming operation the status of a Minnesota Water Quality Certified Farm and the West Otter Tail SWCD 2018 Outstanding Conservationist Award. 

Gary and Teresa Meemken’s farms are south of the town of Clitherall and are in corn, soybean, and wheat production.  Protecting natural resources is important to Meemkens, including protecting nearby Clitherall Lake, which is just west of several of their fields.  As a result, the Meemken farming operation was recently recognized for meeting the water quality protection standards of Minnesota’s Ag Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP).  The Meemken operation joins over 630 farming operations that are now Water Quality Certified in Minnesota’s 4-year old program that recognizes farmers’ efforts in protecting Minnesota’s water quality.

Gary understands that a system of several conservation practices is needed to protect soil and water, and he has implemented the following conservation practices, including those that reduce soil erosion and slow down runoff water on his fields with significant slope:

- Conservation Tillage.  Gary prepares his fields for corn, soybean, and wheat planting by using reduced tillage and primarily practicing spring tillage.  In this way, significant levels of crop residue (stalks and stubble) remain on the soil surface for much of the year, which prevent soil erosion that can be caused by rain or wind.  With soil erosion controlled, water runoff rates are greatly reduced and very little soil sediment leaves the farm.     

- Cover Crops.  Appreciating the many benefits of cover crops, Gary establishes cover crops after the harvest of soybeans and wheat.  He utilizes cover crop species such as cereal rye grain and radishes and attends soil health and cover crop field days.  Cover crops provide growing vegetation and roots in the soil for a longer period of the growing season; this reduces soil erosion, slows runoff water, minimizes leaching loss of nutrients in the soil, and increases soil organic matter.

- Best Management Practices for Fertilizer Applications.  Nutrients needed for crop production are applied on the Meemken farms in a way that prevents loss of nitrogen and phosphorus to groundwater and to nearby Clitherall Lake.  Gary practices ‘spoon feeding’ of nitrogen, meaning nitrogen is applied at times when the corn crop most needs this nutrient.  Gary uses several Best Management Practices (BMP’s) which prevent loss of nutrients by leaching and runoff.

- Irrigation Management Techniques.  Gary operates his center pivot irrigation systems in a manner that prevents nitrogen loss and conserves energy.  Gary participates in the Irrigation Management Program through the East Otter Tail Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) and has converted his irrigation systems to low-pressure systems that use drop nozzles.  

- Grass in drainageways.  On the Meemken’s sloping fields, grass is established in the drainageways where concentrated flow of runoff water occurs during rain events.  Perennial grass in these drainageways prevents gully erosion in the cropland.

- Conservation Programs.  Gary Meemken participates in conservation programs offered through the West Otter Tail Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  

When asked about his thoughts on protecting our soil and water resources, Gary remembered that years ago a farmer told him: “You take care of the land, the land will take care of you.”  Gary believes that good stewardship of the land and water is important for every farmer to practice.

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